A singer’s blog: The Great British Sing… Along!

12 April 2019

The latest trend in musicals is to make a virtue of what the audience finds itself doing anyway, despite itself and the disapproving looks of the people in the row in front: to singalong with the characters – on stage or screen. There have been Sing-a-long-a Frozen, Grease, The Sound of Music, The Greatest Showman, Moana, Dirty Dancing and, perhaps the ultimate in singalongs, The Rocky Horror Show Singalong.

Here in Southampton this weekend, the new NST City Theatre has, “two special screenings of The Greatest Showman, complete with lyrics on screen so that you can sing-a-long as you watch - also fancy dress strongly encouraged!”

They are inviting audiences to, “Relive the magic of ‘A Million Dreams’, lose yourself in ‘Rewrite The Stars’, and of course sing your heart out to the Oscar nominated and Golden Globe winning ‘This Is Me!’”. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see some fellow choir members leading the participation at one of these shows.

The latest outing of Inspiration Southampton with the BSO was not billed as a singalong concert but, when one definition of a singalong is, ‘an occasion when a group of people sing songs together for pleasure’ then perhaps it was! I know I wasn’t the only member of the audience joining in with some of the well-known numbers. Perhaps we needed surtitles or a lyrics sheet for all the words of ‘Jerusalem’, ‘We’ll Gather Lilacs’ and that seldom-sung second verse of the ‘National Anthem’, but come the chorus we were right back on cue.

My personal favourite had to be ‘The Lion King Medley’ with the amazing intro from the BSO percussion section and the synchronised syllables of the sopranos singing, “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba” to the final closing of the “Circle of life”. This was a supreme example of music for the pleasure of all – performers and audience alike.

And, as part of the emotion of the music and song, there was the added element of the artistic signing from Katherine Mount. I’m not sure how she devised the signs for the Zulu, Swahili or Xhosa sections but they were so expressively rendered and hopefully caught on camera from row C!

For this concert, of course, we all want to give a special mention to Inspiration Southampton’s Music Director, Pete who, after his ‘incident’ in Richmond Park back in February, “soon forgot his care and pain and found such lovely things to share again”. Maybe he was inspired by the line from Blood Brothers, “you know that if you cross your fingers, and if you count from one to ten, you can get up off the ground again.”?

There had been some stalwart stand-in sessions from Teresa but, after the broken collar bone, the cracked ribs and the work by ‘our wonderful NHS folk’ Pete and Inspiration, were very soon back together again. On concert day he was his usual, Inspirational self, with some support from a suitably high stool, but without a harness/sling and no one would have known. Maybe we all need to watch out for those ‘tricky corners’ he’s always telling us about?

Won’t be long now before the Great British earworms give way to the Songs of Power. See you on May Day!

Alan Matlock
Bass, Inspiration Southampton

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